My first experience with watercolor was like that of many other students, using the Prang eight pan box with a brush that dropped hairs on 20 lb paper taken out of the ditto machine or large 80 lb drawing paper if we were lucky. We didn’t get a whole lot of direction and maybe fifteen minutes to paint something that always turned out sort of pale and wrinkled. That was enough to turn me off.
One of my degree requirements was three hours of watercolor. I had a highly respected professor who showed a few basic techniques, but his preferred method of teaching was to let students figure it out ourselves. On location, away from the campus. Hope you have transportation! And sunscreen and insect repellant! That experience kept me from taking further watercolor instruction in college. Not to mention that I made a “D” in the class as well.
When I decided to become an art instructor, I realized I would have to teach some sort of painting and that watercolor would probably be the easiest and least expensive medium. I also knew I had to practice myself. So I took my tubes of paint from college days, my two or three brushes (one of which I still have…Big Bertha), the old palette, bought some paper, and started trying. And it was not fun because I was so impatient to be good. But I persevered. I was going to overcome that “D” in Watercolor 101!
I took workshops, read, and practiced occasionally. One workshop instructor pointed out a great piece by a member of the class, stating that she must have a huge stack of paintings at home because her watercolor was so good. Still, I didn’t get it. But after years of piddling I finally started turning out some decent watercolors and getting a few commissions. Now, I love telling the story of my “D” in watercolor. (I also made a “D” in fifth grade religion, but that is another blog.) Half of the work I do for others is in watercolor.
Many believe that watercolor is a challenging medium to master, partly because corrections can be difficult. Some think that works on paper are not as permanent and less valuable.
And then others absolutely love them.
Thank you to my clients who are in love with watercolor paintings.
And to my watercolor professor, I think I did just fine.